Salon of the Month – Ian Kelly Organic Hairdressing


When Ian Kelly opened Ian Kelly Organic Hairdressing in Harpenden, Hertfordshire four years ago, he already had a wealth of experience, having run a successful salon in Crouch End, North London. But with his new venture, he wanted to create something different, a salon that put people first and treated everyone as an individual and a VIP.

With Ian Kelly Organic Hairdressing, soon to be rebranded as IKOH, Ian took everything he had learned over his already lengthy career and set about creating something special for the people of Harpenden and the surrounding area. Says Ian: “I wanted to relook at how things were done in salons and refresh the salon experience for my clients. I’d been living in Harpenden for nearly 10 years when I decided to leave my London salon and work toward a salon in Harpenden. I knew the area well enough to be aware of a gap in the market, for a more natural approach to products and colour, and an atmosphere that was designed around clients enjoying their time in the salon during their appointment - an opportunity to relax and have a couple of hours to themselves.”

One major advantage Ian had when he came to open the salon was that, after years working in the area as an independent stylist, he already had a client base, eager to support the new venture.

Finding the Right People

Finding the right team members to work with him, people who understood what he was trying to achieve, was a challenge, but Ian took the approach of finding the right people as and when the business s grew. Says Ian: “Adding stylists to the team as we grow has worked for us. Teamwork is a key to the business, and the reason I insist on everyone being employed, rather than self-employed. This obviously means more paperwork, and cost, but it’s worth it.”

At the heart of Ian’s salon and his own personal philosophy, is to treat everyone as an individual, whether they are a client or a member of the salon team. “I believe hairdressing is about people,” says Ian, “So the salon is set up for people to enjoy their time here. In our area, there are a lot of women with children, who relish a couple of hours reading magazines, with a coffee, in a nice atmosphere. We also really strive to use the best, most innovative products, that are more natural, and that support us in our work, support the clients at home, and the environment generally. I’d describe the business as one that seeks to make people feel their best.”

Appreciating the Client

"Never taking a client for granted" is central to ensuring the best service, says Ian. “I believe in being honest, open and friendly. I’m not too worried about whether people think we are the ‘trendy’ salon in town, as our work speaks for itself, but I do like people to feel they are welcome and can relax in the knowledge that we don’t take their custom for granted, and they will leave feeling ready to take on whatever the world throws at them, without having to worry about their hair!”

Nor does Ian take his team members for granted. He ensures every member has the freedom and flexibility to progress their careers by offering them the training the need to develop their skills and making sure they are always rewarded financially for their hard work and commitment. “People like to feel appreciated, especial when they are really pushing themselves,” says Ian.

Working with the Best Suppliers

Offering the highest quality services possible is another way that Ian ensures his salon stands out from the competition, and KeraStraight has played a major part in this area of the business. Explains Ian: “We started working with KeraStraight around 18 months ago. I had been looking for a product to smooth hair, but wasn’t happy with the vague attitude some suppliers showed towards the ingredients their products contained. KeraStraight is the kind of company I appreciate - transparent about what was in the product, and very helpful and informative. Co-founder, Jez Barnett, actually came to the salon to give us detailed information about how the range would benefit our clients, and therefore us.

“For us, The Ultimate Treatment is the most popular, although we are carrying out more and more of the Intense Boost treatments. The feedback is always very positive with regard to condition, and the smoothing effect the treatment has on frizzy, wayward hair.”

Ian feels offering KeraStraight services and products has had a tangible positive impact on the business. “I feel it has added enormously to our capability as a salon to offer people their ‘perfect’ head of hair,” he says.  “Now we can say to people ‘don’t worry about the texture or uneven curl in your hair, we can improve that, and not at the expense of the condition of your hair’. It also shows that the salon is committed to finding innovative products, and working with companies that are new and exciting.”

With an imminent rebranding and the possibility of a second salon on the cards, working with trusted people and brands has never been so important to Ian, and KeraStraight looks forward to playing a major part in the exciting future of this innovative salon business.